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This World AIDS Day, I find myself tired and pissed off #HIV #AIDS

This World AIDS Day, I find myself tired and pissed off #HIV #AIDS

Editor’s Note: I’m rerunning this in 2015 because I don’t see the need to change the vast majority of the content.  My site is still out there and growing.  As of today, I’m well over 4000 posts, read in 172 countries and make a believe-it-or-not nice chunk of change from the ad clicks. Thank you very much..

The HIV/AIDS apathy is still strong within the community, though this time it’s taken on a new mask in the form of the PrEP haters.  People who take it are stupid, irresponsible, and looking for an excuse to abandon their condoms and be the whores they want to be.  Whatever.  I think that getting on PreP is one of the most responsible things you can do.  You’re protecting yourself, your partner(s) and prevents you from getting HIV should you be with someone who you’re dumb enough to take at their word when they tell you they’ve tested.  No, PrEP won’t protect you against STD’s, and if you’re boning everything that moves, well, sooner or later you’re going to pay a price.  Enough said there.  And, to put it out there, no. I don’t always use condoms. Unlike a lot of guys however, I’m also not out there tagging anonymous ass either. I’ve known all of my partners for more than a decade.

I was accused yesterday of being ageist in my approach and lionizing the younger generation coming up behind me.  Should there be any of you out there who might be thinking the same thing, here’s a little tip for you:  I’ve been doing this longer than most of you have been alive (Yeah, I’m playing the age card.  Take a minute and get over that…)  I’ve watched an entire generation wiped out from AIDS and now almost 30 years later I’m watching the next generation blithely rolling through their sexual existence without bothering to try and learn from the mistakes we made at your age.  Is that ageist? No, that’s circumstance.  I’m am older than you, and that’s just facts. You can look down your nose at me all you want to, but you better believe those footsteps you’re walking in are from the activists who came before you. You’d do well to respect what we went through whether you like us or not…

Sadly, I’m still pissed off again this year. I think the only way that might wane is if I give some serious thought to moving on.  I’ve beaten my head against the wall…

 

…dm

This year, World AIDS Day is twenty five years old. December 1st is supposed to be a time of remembering those who have HIV, those we have lost to AIDS related illnesses, and recommit ourselves to finding a way to combat this plague that has touched every corner of the planet for more than 30 years. I’m having a problem with that last leg of the tripod; the recommittal. I’m just tired, and frustated.

I never started my site with the intention of my HIV/AIDS reporting taking over more than half of my 2400 articles. The genesis of that began when I noted after watching a dozen other sites is that nobody was mentioning HIV; I’m talking not a one of them. Here’s all these self-proclaimed “champions” of LGBT equality, who have completely abandoned HIV/AIDS as a story at all. Because, you know, it’s apparently just a manageable disease and nobody dies from it anymore right? When they did bother to mention it at all, they fucked the story up completely because they couldn’t put any more effort into it than a slipshod cut and paste. Blogging etiquette says that when you see something off, you should comment – constructively of course. I’ve been blocked from sites entirely for publishing accurate information in the comments, and – get this – when I decide to take the gloves off entirely mentioning their fuck ups on my site I’ve been banned from their social media. (Pardon me whilst I get a tissue and a valium)

About 18 months ago, I wrote a piece entitled “How the first against AIDS went off the rails” and it’s been one of most widely circulated pieces to date:

  • According to the Kaiser Foundation in 1995, 46% of those asked responded that they felt HIV/AIDS was the nations most urgent health problem.  Fourteen years later just 6% of those asked said the same thing.  HIV news articles have dropped 70% in the same amount of time, and the general public goes on it’s merry way.  Gay/bi men have adopted a very blasé attitude towards HIV because nobody is stepping up to the microphone to tell them anything differently.
  • Along the same lines, LGBT bloggers are failing miserably when it comes to reporting on HIV despite their claims of being there to report LGBT impacting news.  Within in the community, name recognizable blogs have next to nothing on the subject.  I looked thru 365 Gay News, After Elton, Big Gay News, Box Turtle Bulletin, Gay News from Gay Agenda, Joe My God, LGBT POV, Out in America, Queerty, The Bilerico Project, Towleroad, and the Washington Blade for a mention of this special being on television last night and not one of them had a single word of it.  Zero, zip, nada.  Most of them found it newsworthy to keep regurgitating the YouTube video of Sarah Palin breathing though.  How can you run a website that’s for the gay community and not run a single piece of information on HIV?  The hypocrisy is staggering, and it’s also sending a message:  There’s nothing to talk about on HIV, so be on your way.  We’ll let you know when it’s time to pay attention.  (NOTE:  The only website that really gets off the hook here is The Bilerico Project as they will occasionally run HIV related content).

This far forward from that post, not much has changed. JMG still copy/pastes pieces to death and pats himself on the back for doing his civic duty – while ignoring the fact that he’s gotten one more story wrong. Because bloggers can’t be bothered with trivialities such as fact checking, when one gets it wrong then they all do. They’ll copy/paste from each other and before you know it nobody’s running the right piece out there, or giving a flying frenchman’s fuck about correcting what they have run. Copy, paste, move on. That’s all the effort it requires these days to keep your readership informed on HIV/AIDS. Some sites don’t bother running anything on HIV/AIDS at all, or even take the time to run an obligatory piece on World AIDS Day.

They’re too busy being the angry white man, champion of the people who’ll advance LGBT rights of the oppressed everywhere by getting us all to change our vodka in the name of our rights. Or seeing a gay oppression conspiracy in every sideways glance; making sure they’ve written no less than 40 articles and several hundred thousand words to make sure they’ve beaten the horse to death before they’ve moved on. If only their HIV/AIDS contributions weren’t five months old, fraught with errors and misinformation, or yet still (……wait for it…..) citing another conspiracy. Some sites have yet to run a single HIV/AIDS piece since their inception so I don’t know which is worse: the one that fucks it up, or the one that ignores the subject entirely while singing “la, la, la” and wearing blinders. Fuck it up, ignore it. Fuck it up, ignore it. Seems pretty well balanced on the bullshit scale to me.

Their HIV/AIDS apathy is pretty indicative of apathy everywhere Perceived “leaders” in the gay community have stopped talking about HIV, and when they do it’s in passing and as casually as someone might mention a sale at Barney’s. HIV isn’t a big deal these days, these days you can take a pill and just move on, right?wpid-therese-frare-david-kirby-2013-11-30-16-05.jpg

I mean, really: nobody dies from AIDS these days. Right?

The apathy weighs on me, a lot. I’ve been involved in some form or fashion around HIV/AIDS since damn near the beginning. Don’t get me wrong, and I want to be clear about my roles: I was not a leading advocate, nor am I one to this day. I’m not a Peter Staley, so much as I was the eager, goofy, newly sober guy who would shake in the corner and could type 60 words a minute. I’m not a Bob Bowers, either. They’ve dedicated far more to HIV/AIDS awareness than I am capable of imagining. I understand it loud and clear now when they say they’ve given so much of their lives it’s time to pull back. Part of them says they’ve given enough, and when they do step back they wrestle with the dilemma of how to redefine their lives without a piece that’s taken three decades from them. I get it. Part of me is dead tired of beating my head against the wall and talking to heads that are in the room but not listening. The other part of me says I’ve got an audience and a purpose; is it really time for me to step back and let someone else drive the bus? Better still, WHO is going to drive? Nobody’s asking for the fucking keys for a bus that’s not moving.

So this December 1st, I find myself tired. Of beating my head against the keyboard at the continued lack of urgency around HIV. The lack of attention to the disease, the apathy, the abandonment of the problem in light of far more pressing needs of the community like gay marriage. Will I keep going on the subject? Sure. I made a commitment more than two decades ago to see it through to the end and I will. My activism these days is confined to the keyboard; I’m not in the streets like I used to be and I don’t see that changing any time soon. The last speaker’s circuit I travelled in was a few years ago in Yuma, AZ and the crowd then was woefully small compared to the ones I spoke at five year before that.

I just can’t shake the thought from my head of “does what I do even matter anymore?” I’m tired of being in the minority, pissed off at the LGBT community for becoming so complacent on the subject of HIV and AIDS. I’ve had it with LGBT leaders who doesn’t even have HIV or AIDS in their lexicon, and have it totally missing from their operating budgets. They lead by example, and the picture they paint is simple: HIV is a non-issue, what’s next?

I’ll find a way soon to recharge my batteries and keep going, but that’s where I am at. I can’t help but look at the puddle of apathy all over my floor and say to myself that my mop isn’t big enough to clean it on my own.

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